Post Rock Post // Best of 2022

Oh, Post Rock Post, you lovely creature you! My favorite of the columns and the eldest of them! Vessel of Heavy Blog's future all the way back in

Oh, Post Rock Post, you lovely creature you! My favorite of the columns and the eldest of them! Vessel of Heavy Blog's future all the way back in 2015 when I had no idea what I was doing at all. Sorry, I just love this column so much! 2022 is no different; the list of albums below contains so much more than "just" a bunch of music. Rather, it contains countless memories of the year-which-just-was, snippets of my life during it married to post-rock. That's probably not a coincidence as post-rock nestles comfortably within that comfortably dark part of my brain which ruminates on time, distance travelled, and emotional impact.

I would really like to give the words below their space so this is where the introduction ends. Please enjoy our selections from another phenomenal year for post-rock (even if most of it was centered on November). Thank you for reading my favorite column.

-Eden Kupermintz

Eden’s Top 10 Post-rock Dreamscapes

1. And So I Watch You From Afar - Jettison

I have been up and down the Internet writing and talking about this album and I still can’t quite capture what it is that draws me to it so powerfully. Perhaps it is the little snippets of classic And So I Watch You From Afar energies that keep creeping up “behind” the main sounds of the album; almost as if All Hail Bright Futures is smiling behind the post-rock melancholy and longing of this album. Perhaps it is the cryptic and touching voice-overs that send my mind into a whirl of story and a world seeing behind variegated leaves, shadows playing across some serendipitous meeting in a time and place that never existed.

Or, finally, perhaps it is simply the sheer craftsmanship of this veteran band now turning their accomplished compositional gaze to the genre of music I love so much. Perhaps it is “simply” that the strings are written and performed so beautifully that they make my heart soar. Perhaps it is “simply” the lean, efficient structure of track and album that sends the music piercing me to my core. Whatever it might be, simply or otherwise, Jettison has moved me in ways almost no other album has and I am eternally grateful that it exists. Try to find a spot of sunshine where you are, or a cozy nook, and just let this album unfurl across your ears. It’s a true delight.

2. In-Dreamview - Spires

Like the album above it, I’ve written about this album multiple times across the blog and elsewhere, trying to capture its elusive magic. But, at the end of the day, I find myself once again encountering the unmediated and unintelligible power of music. What words can be used to describe how I feel when the bells of “Belfry” break over me or how I am transported when “Steeple”’s achingly beautiful strings and piano begin to wind down the album?

The whole idea of this sort of music is that it’s trying to perform the opposite process, to take an experience (in this case, the experience of being in the presence of beautiful architecture) and take it away from words and deeper into feeling. Spires is a true testament to In-Dreamview’s ingenuity and ability to write music which communicates the uncommunicable, touching deeply on the more elusive capabilities of post-rock to transform us.

3. Cygnus - Answer From Cygnus

Undoubtedly the heaviest of my selections this year, Cygnus have released perhaps the only post-black metal album that I thoroughly enjoyed in 2022. Answer From Cygnus is a masterclass in how to balance the aggression of black metal and the fragile beauty of post-rock, creating an album that is both forceful and furious, replete with blast-beats, screams, and massive riffs, but also filled with the kind of aching longing that hides in the softer side of the genre. It’s been my go to album when I’m craving something crunchier but still want a melancholic and even delicate edge to it. It’s also extremely underrated, so I urge you to give this one a try and discover one of 2022’s most underrated releases.

4. Glaston - I Am Whole

There’s a lot of very percussive, piano driven post-rock on my list this year. I mean, there’s always some of it, since I love the potential of the sharper notes of a piano interspersed with all those flighty, flowery, delayed guitar riffs. But this year I seem to have gravitated even more to this style and no one did it better in 2022 than Glaston. I Am Whole is a piano lover's joy, full with engaging, dynamic, and moving ideas for how to achieve just that blend I mentioned above. Especially worthy of attention is how the piano works with the rest of the percussive instruments on the album, especially with the beautifully recorded cymbals, to create an evocative and momentous “engine” for the rest of the album’s dreamy and ethereal sound. Pair that with splashes of warm bass and melodramatic strings and you’ve got everything you need in a post-rock album.

5. Indignu - Adeus

This is perhaps the most ponderous and patient of the albums on this list and, perhaps, the most “classically” cinematic album as well. The combo is interesting, as parts of Adeus ring out with the crescendo strength while others are very quiet and subtle, hinting at glimpses of scenery and place. But it’s not the classic “build up and release” model either; there’s very little intro or a slow rising in volume. Rather, Adeus is more subtle, willing to explore the quieter segments of its sound in their own right while still finding clever ways to create connection between them and its louder passages. Check out “Devolução da essência do ser”; I think that track best channels what I’m trying to describe here.

6. Boucle Infinie - Summit

This album probably wins the “Lushest Album of the Year” award. Its vaporwave tendencies mix so well with the darker, more drawn out synthwave and post-rock vibes that it ends up swallowing you whole. It’s also surprisingly varied, shaking off Gallego’s previous penchant for brutal repetition and creating a multi-colored, intriguing patchwork of electronic sounds and ideas.

7. Carved Into the Sun - The Earth Fell Away

Maybe I was wrong up above and this is actually the most “classically” cinematic album on my list this year? Regardless, The Earth Fell Away is an excellently melancholic and somber album, oscillating between well written and intricate quiet passages and moving, mountain size crescendos.

8. Desbot - Pass of Change

What an underrated album this is! It’s actually no surprise that it is, since its drawn out and ambient core requires patience and attention to fully appreciate it. But if you dedicate the time to it, you’ll find one of the darker and more moving albums of the year, running the gamut between chunky post-metal and contemplative, almost drone-like post-rock.

9. JOI – Mk 1

This album holds the illustrious honor of being the only album on this list that could be said to “go”. It’s all groove, attack, and direct aural assault, reaching deep into your gut and demanding you move, damn it!

10. Ravena - Aether

I extolled the many virtues of this album elsewhere but like Desbot’s above mentioned album, it is a highly demanding piece of work. Break through the post-rock exterior to find the drone/ambient interior filled with space dreams and heart-wrenching guitars.

David’s Top 10 Post-y Releases of 2022

1. deathcrash - Return

This is one of those exciting albums that’s both nothing you were actively searching for and everything you didn’t realize you wanted. It seems that at some point in its conception, Return made a number of passes through Slint’s Spiderland, but where it ultimately lands is a unique and cohesive world all its own. Don’t let the languid pacing, disaffected spoken word vocals, or gauzy vibe fool you, this features sharp songwriting and calculated craftsmanship throughout. deathcrash take the idea of soft-loud dynamics and lift it to a place where it can soar.

One of the keys is in their refusal to neglect the soft or force the loud. It seems simple, but it’s a mistake that a lot of bands make (particularly in post-rock, where it is probably the greatest flaw in bands that never crack the top tier). It doesn’t matter how massive your eruptions are if your audience falls asleep before they reach the edge of the volcano. Return is full of songs that demonstrate the necessary patience and skill to build an attractive environment that the listener wants to spend time in. Some of them never even reach a big finish, and it’s fine because the vibes are so engaging even without any added embellishment. And when distortion pedals do get stomped on and things get loud it’s even more a wonder to behold. This one’s a real gem, even more so because it’s so singular and so exquisitely performed and presented.

2. Adolf Plays The Jazz - Low Life | We Can’t Lose. We Have Already Lost

Remember back in the early-to-mid 2000’s when there was that window of time where punk and post-hardcore got together and leaned really hard into the spit-in-your-face, strutting-and-sneering aesthetic (think Blood Brothers and The Jonbenet), and then a few of them decided that saxophones and brass instruments would make a really nice addition to that brand (think The Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower and Black Eyes)?

Well, Greece’s Adolf Plays The Jazz reminds me of what it might sound like if the two latter bands stepped away from the punk scene, went to grad school, got married, bought a house, nailed down a good job, and then in their mid-thirties decided they wanted to try music again. Low Life reveals echoes of wilder and more outrageous sensibilities, but it’s a serious affair that’s focused more on developing soundscapes and less on shock-and-awe obnoxiousness. Don’t get me wrong, I love every band I mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph, but as a 41-year-old I very much appreciate listening to an album that translates that noisy, visceral punk energy into a context that I can thoughtfully appreciate by myself with headphones on.

3. Russian Circles - Gnosis

I’ve been known to grumble about Russian Circles’ recent output here and there in our posts, but I’m still here for them when they do something that demands attention, and I’m 100% here for Gnosis. This is their best album since the original trio of releases, raw and rugged and uncompromising. It’s also got the intangible qualities some of its latter-day predecessors have lacked - it’s got a youthful energy and attitude, like something clicked during these past couple of COVID years and helped them return to inspired form. Whatever happened, I’m happy for them. This record sounds like it was fun to make, and that brings such an important element to the listening experience.

4. Yndian Mynah - The Boys Scribbled Like Mad

The first couple minutes of this South African quartet’s sophomore effort may lead you to think it’s your average reserved, slow-building post-rock fare, but stick around because the vibe switches up soon after and carries through the remainder of the album. The band has great chemistry and energy working throughout this punchy, bouncy collection of songs. I’m not saying Yndian Mynah sounds like And So I Watch You From Afar, but The Boys Scribbled Like Mad gives me the same kind of feeling I got when I first heard that band’s self-titled debut.

There’s an overwhelming sense of joy and freedom characterizing the music here, and each time I listen to it I get the sense that these guys had a blast performing these songs together. My list this year is definitely skewing toward more moody, solemn sounds, but The Boys Scribbled Like Mad is the outlier, a jubilant record that really is a pleasure to listen to.

5. Grivo - Omit

This Austin post-adjacent  shoegaze band was right on the edge of something great with their 2018 album Elude, and with Omit they took their first steps into a truly impactful space. Opening track “Trammel” sets the tone with an earworm guitar progression that stamps its signature with a particularly tasty string bend, and is soon accompanied by a steady mid-tempo drum beat that imbues the track with an accessible flow that these types of songs don’t always possess. The album continues from there with a nicely proportioned balance of dreamy soundscapes, breathy vocals echoing from the ether, and thick walls of distorted guitars. It’s clear these guys have figured out the formula, and I’m excited to find out where they take it on future releases.

6. Deer Park Ranger - Tamalpais

The newest release from Los Angeles-based solo artist Trevor Humphrey is the most traditional post-rock release on this list. We sometimes give artists from this genre a hard time for replicating the same quiet build/loud crescendo formula, but by the same token we’re probably all here writing for this column because of the instances in which that formula was executed correctly. Tamalpais is perhaps the finest example from the past year of post-rock done correctly. Really nailed that album cover art as well.

7. Ravena - Aether

These guys went from a trio to a duo since their dense but rewarding 2016 debut Laocoon, and the piece they lost was their drummer, which could have signaled some difficulties when it came to translating their expansive, ambitious sound without organic percussion. But any worry dissipates quickly, as Aether proves to be just as huge, moving, and memorable as you’d hope. It’s difficult to tell anyone not to be intimidated by that running time, but as Eden’s already said, if you meet the demands of the music, you’ll find great rewards within.

8. Astodan - Evora

These Belgian post-metallers really stepped up and stood out this year, showing a determination to continue the evolution of their sound that I very much appreciated. Unexpectedly, Evora arrived with the addition of a vocalist, a first for this previously instrumental outfit. They bring a layer of shoegaze to the table that really rounds out their sound, and makes this their finest album to date.

9. Girih - Ikigai

For their second LP, this New Hampshire trio demonstrated to fans just how deep their attention to detail runs with what may be the most stunning post-rock vinyl package of their year. But more importantly, the music continued on an upward trajectory from their debut, building on the loop-heavy post-metal sound that got them noticed and signed right out of the gate by dunk!records and A Thousand Arms.

10. KYOTY - Isolation

I may have given slightly higher slots to Russian Circles and Girih, but when it comes to instrumental post-metal, Isolation may be the most crushing release of 2022. Thick bass, crunchy guitars, and muscular percussion ensure that this is a punishing experience in all the best of ways, which is evened out nicely by some moody ambient stretches. These guys are a bit of an enigma, existing as they do basically right under my nose here in Northern New England, but without ever really having become an active part of the regional scene. Hey, whatever works. As the album title suggests, perhaps seclusion just suits them.

Trent’s Top 10 Post-Rock and Post-Rock Accessories

1. Caroline - Caroline

An early standout from 2022, this London-based 7-piece bring something unique to post-rock while not forgetting why we listen to it in the first place. Drawing heavily from neo-classical chamber music elements, choral accompaniments, slowcore and Appalachian folk music, their debut self-titled reminds one of the best parts of Balmorhea meets Thee Silver Mt. Zion. It’s powerful, profound, and oddly invigorating. The shimmering acoustic tones and soft choral voices just put you in a calmed, relaxed and inspired state.

At other times the strings and percussion feel like an ocean crashing against the rocks, with turbulent and unpredictable swaying dissonance and shifting moments of loudness and soft reprieves. It’s like a minimalist avant-folk approach to what bands like Godspeed have been doing, while being just as suspenseful and hypnotic. An at times devastatingly melancholic affair, the depth of the emotion here is astounding for a debut. The potential of this band is endless right now, and I can’t wait for what comes next.  

2. Rolo Tomassi - Where Myth Becomes Memory

Gradually moving on from their early sassy synth-fused mathcore days, Rolo Tomassi have undeniably evolved into some sort of genre-blending storm of post-hardcore, math, prog, and dream pop. Yet, fundamentally their song-writing tends to return to a post-metal and post-rock inspired structure. This growth was most notable on their breakout 2018 album, and Where Myth Becomes Memory is a natural progression from this.

While feeling slightly more disjointed than their previous release, they continue to stretch the boundaries of their writing, exploring some of the softest and heaviest territory they’ve encountered over their now 17-year existence. It’s in this contrast from serene elegance to swirling calamity where they’re defining themselves and setting themselves apart from their peers. Vocalist Eva Korman somehow keeps getting better with each album, and the rest of the band’s ability to innovate and challenge themselves into new territory is a joy to witness.

3. Deathcrash - Return

Ah, the best sad album of 2022. Or, the saddest best album? Either way, this is bound to hit you in the feelings one way or another. Deathcrash are another newer band from the UK flirting with slowcore and emo to build slowly moving glaciers of pure melancholy. The emotions are earned through lethargic repetition like in top post-rock fashion that gradually stacks its effectiveness like a videogame power-up.

This wintery solitude is broken up occasionally by moments of heavier post-metal and post-hardcore that make you briefly question if you’re still listening to the same band, but they’re able to bridge this back to the overarching motifs of the album quite effectively. It always, Returns, so to speak. As David mentions, this is an album that requires a bit of patience to be fully absorbed by, as patience itself is one Deathcrash’s calling cards. Yet the payoff is there in both their writing and in the listening experience, without anything feeling rushed or overcooked. With everything nearly perfectly in its place, they’ve stumbled upon something special here that is worth your while.

4. Holy Fawn - Dimensional Bleed

Loud, heavy, pretty noises. The moniker adopted by Holy Fawn to describe their “dreamgaze” approach to post-metal is not only aptly accurate, but also a succinct description of a sound most bands in this niche should strive for. That “pretty” element is something we often see overlooked in the genre. Dimensional Bleed contains some of their loudest and heaviest material to date, yet manages to take their ethereal soundscapes to a blissful escape. As mentioned above, this is something Rolo Tomassi has hit on equally well, but the approach here is more grounded in ambiance and mood.

They shift from haunting and murky to humid and sun-kissed effortlessly, with synth tones and clean vocal melodies growing from ghostly to angelic, bridging these strong atmospheric shifts throughout. That mossy, wooded feel of their music is ever-present, and vocalist Ryan Osterman’s distant impassioned shrieks conjure something out of a cinematic horror flick set in a forest. Though not necessarily hitting all of the highs of their breakout debut Death Spells, Dimensional Bleed is a soul-touching and heart-stirring follow-up from one of the most important bands in the scene right now.  

5. And So I Watch You From Afar - Jettison

Far from new-comers, the incendiary Irish instrumental rockers were one of the bigger surprises this year. For their 6th full-length, ASIWYFA deviated from the tried-and-true formula of their previous releases, opting to take on the talents of the impressive Arco String Quartet. As a result, their typically jovial, dancey post-math approach is entwined by a calmed, neo-classical sense of comforting ease.

Maybe you can teach old dogs new tricks? Or is this just a weathered maturity, feeling the weight of the world around them. Either way, they haven’t abandoned the vibrant grooviness we’ve grown accustomed to from them. The string accompaniment simply adds an arguably needed dynamic to their sound, bringing contemplative introspection more into the fold. Despite this calm and collected side to their music, Jettison contains some of the most free-wheeling and boundless material they’ve made to date, and also the most “post-rock”. If you had written this band off for whatever reason, this might be the album they win you over with.

6. Indignu - Adeus

From slow moving guitar melodies that twang with apocalyptic resolve, to invigorating psych-rock riffs, Adeus is one of the best kinds of post-rock albums. A “take you on a ride” kind of album. Their affinity for epic cinematic flair certainly aids with this, as song-to-song you can envision a range of cinematography and settings to match the ever-flowing story of their instrumental craft. Letting their Portuguese roots come into play, Indignu are an exciting band with something a lot of this genre is lacking, a strong identity.

7. Glaston - I Am Whole

As someone whose formative post-rock bands consisted of Maybeshewill and God Is An Astronaut, I will never not adore piano-driven post-rock. Fortunately, there’s not entirely a shortage of this formula of late, and Glaston were one of the biggest standouts in that field this year. The Swiss group’s second album I Am Whole is as bright, warm and uplifting as its name would suggest. Punctuated by an impressive percussion section that ebbs and flows with the piano, the fluid tempo shifts stir just the right emotions. The strong production work from Magnus Lindberg of Cult of Luna was a nice touch too. May this album make you feel whole again, too.

8. Ef -  We Salute You, You and You

Anything that can help fill the Yndi Halda-sized void since we last heard from them in 2018 is a plus in my book, and Ef does an admirable job at that. A mainstay in the Scandinavian post-rock scene, Ef put out four albums between 2006 and 2013 before a lengthy wait until 2022’s We Salute You, You and You, which might be their best since their debut. The group shares members with the dreamy, ambient post-indie group Immánu El, and a lot of their lush, sentimental soundscapes are present here. Combined with those bittersweet, climatic string-sections I allude to with the YH comparison, and there’s a lot worth saluting here.  

9. Chalk Hands - Don’t Think About Death

As one of the blog’s resident screamo fanboys, I have to give at least one nod here to my favourite post-rock genre crossover. Stealing that title this year is yet another young UK act named Chalk Hands, with their impressive debut Don’t Think About Death. A heart-breaking emotional journey with passionate vocals and just as stirring instrumentation with a strong penchant for memorable melodies.

10. Black Country, New Road - Ants From Up Here

Caroline and Deathcrash ultimately ended up stealing the airwaves a little more for this sort of Slint-inspired first-wave approach to the genre, but there’s undeniably something special about what BCNR have going on. Though not reaching the consistency or wow-factor of their debut, there’s individual moments across this album where their art rock-fused post-rock is taken to places rarely heard in the genre which really sets them apart. Unfortunately it was announced that this is the last album to feature their vocalist/guitarist Isaac Wood, so the band’s future is a bit up in the air.

Eden Kupermintz

Published a year ago